It’s a jungle out there — in cyberspace that is. Since the Internet has become integral to just about every facet of life, it is also more appealing to hackers who get their kicks from causing service interruptions. Viruses, identity theft, DDoS attacks, the list goes on. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to protect our computers and our data both at home and in business.
Installing firewalls, using anti-virus software, keeping your operating system updated, using strong passwords, and securing Wi-Fi networks, are all actions you can and should take to protect yourself. Furthermore, changing those passwords regularly and keeping all software updated will help keep you protected.
Now you might think you’re totally safe once you employ all of these protection tools, well think again, still lurking are what we call DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attacks.
DoS and DDoS
A DoS (Denial of Service) attack can be compared to a mall store and a flash mob. If a mob of people, whose only intent is to disrupt, crowd their way into a small store, clogging aisles of merchandise and blocking legitimate buyers from entering, they effectively shut down the business while they are assembled. A DoS attack, the digital version of that mob, overwhelms servers and routers with bogus computer traffic and stops legitimate Internet traffic from reaching you. When these attacks take place, your Internet connection will slow to a crawl or stop altogether.
A Distributed Denial of Service attack or DDoS attack is a more sophisticated version of the DoS attack that can be harder to defend against. Attackers use compromised computers, such as a computer infected with malware, to launch the flood of bogus traffic. Rather than blocking traffic from a single IP address, it is now necessary to block certain types of requests from points all around the world.
Protecting Yourself from DDoS Attacks
No one is safe, not even the most tech savvy. Consider that DDoS attacks have crippled interactive Xbox users, blocked access to New York Magazine, and most recently, taken out the BBC IPlayer on-demand site for several hours on New Year’s Eve. Estimates are that DDoS attacks doubled from 2013 to 2014 and then increased by 148% from 2014 to 2015.
Loss estimates from a single DDoS attack can include operational and helpdesk expenses, lost revenue, and loss of future business. Depending on the length of the attack, from as little as 2 hours up to 24 hours, loss estimates range from $26,000 to $800,000. Without DDoS protection, imagine the cost to your business if several hours of connectivity are lost due to this type of malicious attack.
There are ways to protect against DDoS attacks. Your business can contract with DDoS security consultants for cloud-based mitigation systems that essentially detour you incoming data through a TDS (Threat Defense System) in the cloud for monitoring before delivery. Depending on the size of your business, and how much Internet traffic you have, cloud based mitigation services can average $3,000 /month. Many ISPs also offer DDoS protection for an additional charge, and some actually protect their entire network, do not charge their business and residential subscribers, and simply consider it a value-added service.
Ask Your Provider
When you’re in the market for an Internet service provider, if DDoS protection isn’t a requirement, it should be? We all ask potential providers about network redundancy, packet loss, latency, jitter, customer support, and network monitoring. As integral as these elements are to mission-critical connectivity, the potential for DDoS attacks should not be overlooked. Obviously, an ISP who provides the DDoS protection automatically is preferable. If that level of service is not available to you, it is wise to contact with either your provider or a third party for the monitoring and mitigation of costly DDoS attacks.